Covid19: UK Payment Holiday Extended for 3 months

The UK government has told banks to give more time to millions of people struggling with debts owing to the coronavirus crisis.

Credit card, store card, catalogue credit and personal loan customers will be able to defer repayments for another three months.

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The help was first ordered by the City regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), in April.

Anyone taking advantage of the freeze must still pay back the debt at the end of the deferral period.

This has prompted debt charities to warn of the potential for individuals’ financial problems to simply be stored up for a later date.

The FCA said that if borrowers could resume their repayments they should do so, to avoid getting into more serious difficulty in the future. Banks may also be stricter in who qualifies for the payment deferral, and might only agree to a reduction in minimum repayments.

The regulator stressed that using the payment deferral should not affect a borrower’s credit rating. However, it warned that loan providers did have other ways to check on whether payment holidays had been taken, such as asking for bank statements, when making decisions on whether to agree to credit applications.

Although these extensions are currently proposals, banks only have until Monday to comment and the FCA expects the rules to be implemented soon after.

Help for people with car finance, payday loans, rent-to-own deals, pawnbroking, and buy-now-pay-later agreements will be updated by the regulator at a later date.

Most Banks are currently offering interest free overdraft up to a certain amount with reduced interest rate.

Check for details on your banks website. Most application can be done online.

Source: BBC News

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How to protect your identity

CIFAS (the UK’s fraud prevention service) warns of the danger of identity theft if house owners are not scrupulously careful about securing all personal data in their home effectively and when moving home. It cites the case of a man who took himself off the electoral register in his old home and redirected his post through Royal Mail only to find himself targeted by identity thieves six months after the move.

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The fraudsters had re-registered the homeowner onto the electoral roll, set up a company in his name and run up large utilities debts and other bills. The fraud only came to light after his application for a credit card was refused.

What is identity theft?

Identity theft is when a person’s personal details are stolen, and can happen whether that person is alive or dead.

Identity thieves can steal your personal information in a number of ways, including going through your post or rubbish to find bank and credit card statements, pre-approved credit offers or tax information.

They could steal personal information from your wallet or purse by taking a driving licence, or credit or bank cards, or could obtain your credit report by posing as someone who has a lawful right to the information.

Some individuals may use the internet to acquire the personal information you share on unsecured sites. They may also use

Your information could even be stolen while you shop. In some cases, fraudsters may even ‘skim’ your credit card information when you make a purchase, leading to card cloning or card-not-present fraud.

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The following are ways to help prevent you from identity theft:

  • Keep all personal document secure and ensure there are no personal documents or other papers carrying your name and details anywhere in the house when you leave
  • Protect your internet-connected devices with up-to-date security software, and make sure you install all official software updates and security fixes on such devices
  • Don’t throw out anything containing your name, address or financial details without shredding it
  • Keep checks on your credit records regularly
  • If you are moving home, make sure you redirect your mail, register with the Mail Preference Service and make sure to inform your utilities, service providers and everyone of your new address in good time to avoid any mail going to your old address
  • End utility and landline telephone contracts before you move out of the home
  • If any of your things are going into storage, make sure there’s nothing personally identifiable from the boxes
  • Be careful when using public wi-fi networks. Never use them to access sensitive apps or sites, such as mobile banking

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Birmingham worst hit city in UK by Storm Ciara

An insurance giant has seen a 285 per cent surge in calls and claims as it helps to repair the damage caused by Storm Ciara – with Birmingham one of the worst-hit cities.

Claims included property damage such as loose tiles and broken windows, as well as flooding.

Andrew Morrish, UK claims director for Aviva, said: “Storm Ciara is unusual in that it has affected a wide area and so far we’ve seen an increase of around 285 per cent in telephone calls and claims, compared to January.

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“Customers are able to contact us in a number of ways and around 10 per cent of people have made a claim using our online claims facility.

Mr Morrish said: “This means that around 12 per cent of customers have already received payments.”

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has advised people facing damage or flooding to contact their insurer as soon as possible.

Many insurers have 24-hour emergency helplines and they may be able to arrange temporary emergency repairs to stop any damage getting worse.

The ABI advises keeping any receipts which may be used to support a claim and not rushing to throw away damaged items unless they are a danger to health, as they may be repaired or restored.

Comprehensive motor insurance covers the cost of repairing or replacing vehicles damaged by storms.

Source: Birmingham Live 

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What is the first thing people do after moving into a new home?

Moving into your first property can be a long, complex and emotional process. For some, it can take a while to finally settle into their new home.

According to a recent Zoopla survey, the majority of people need from one week to a month after they’ve moved in to feel like they’re in a place they can call home:

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First things first

When it comes to settling into their new homes, people divide their time between the practical and the fun.

More than a third of respondents (37%) gave their property a deep clean on the day they moved in, while a fifth (19%) decided to set up council tax and utilities. Impressive organisational skills.

However, it’s not all work and no play. One in five respondents (20%) skipped cooking and ordered takeaway on their first day and another one in four (25%) got intimate with their partners:

Zoopla asked over 2,000 people, both existing homeowners and first-time buyers, to find out

What do people do on move-in day? 

  • Give the property a deep clean – 37%
  • Get intimate with a partner – 25%
  • Order a takeaway – 20%
  • Set-up council tax or utilities – 19%
  • Have your first argument – 10%
  • Entertain family – 7%
  • Make home improvements – 7%
  • Entertain friends – 4%

Source: Zoopla Property News

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All you need to know about Coronavirus

Coronavirus is a potentially fatal type of virus associated with the common cold, pneumonia, and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SAR). It can infect your nose, sinuses, or upper throat. They can spread much like cold viruses.

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Medically Coronavirus is any of a group of RNA viruses that cause a variety of diseases in humans and other animals. In humans, the viruses cause respiratory infections – including the common cold – which are typically mild. Rarer forms such as SARS, MERS and the novel coronavirus causing the 2019–20 Wuhan coronavirus outbreak can be lethal. There are no vaccines or antiviral drugs that are approved for prevention or treatment.

Symptoms of Wuhan Corinavirus are: See the source image

  • fever –  high temperature
  • fatigue – Feeling tired
  • sore throat
  • dry cough
  • shortness of breath –  difficulty breathing

These symptoms are similar to other respiratory diseases, including flu and the common cold. So if you have symptoms consider the following:

  • Have you travelled in the last two weeks to a high risk area?
  • Have you been in contact with someone who has?

How quickly do symptoms emerge?

Symptoms are thought to appear between two and 10 days after contracting the virus.

There is also some evidence, as yet unconfirmed, that the virus can be spread by asymptomatic people – that is people who carry the virus but are not yet very sick.

If this is correct it may make the virus considerably more difficult to control.

When should I seek medical help?

If you have travelled to Wuhan or Hubei Province in China (or another significantly affected area)  in the last two weeks, or have been in close contact with someone who has and feel unwell, call NHS 111 for advice now.

Public Health England defines close contact as being within two meters of someone for 15 minutes or more or sharing a room for a prolonged period.

Do NOT go straight to a doctor’s surgery or hospital as, if you have the virus, you risk spreading it to others.

The NHS is asking anyone returning from Wuhan or Hubei Province to “self-quarantine” themselves for two weeks, that is stay away from work and other busy places and take care interacting with others.

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How is the new coronavirus spread and how can I protect myself?

Hand hygiene is the first and most important line of defence.

Like cold and flu bugs, the new virus is spread via droplets when a person coughs or sneezes.  The droplets land on surfaces and are picked up on the hands of others and spread further. People catch the virus when they touch their infected hands to their mouth, nose or eyes.

It follows that the single most important thing you can do to protect yourself is to keep your hands clean by washing them frequently with soap and water or a hand sanitising gel.

Also try to avoid touching your mouth, nose or eyes with unwashed hands – something we all do unconsciously on average about 15 times an hour.

Other tips include:

  • Carry a hand sanitiser with you to make frequent cleaning of hands easy
  • Always wash your hands before you eat
  • Be especially careful in busy airports and other public transport systems about touching things and then touching your face
  • Carry disposable tissues with you, cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze and dispose of the tissue carefully (catch it, bin it, kill it)
  • Do not share snacks from packets or bowls that others are dipping their fingers into
  • Avoid shaking hands or cheek kissing if you suspect viruses are circulating
  • Regularly clean, not just your hands, but commonly used surfaces and devices you touch or handle

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State of emergency declared in Australia due to worst bushfire fire

Authorities in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) have declared a state of emergency as massive bushfires rage south of Canberra.

It is the worst fire threat to the territory in nearly two decades, officials said.

The main blaze, in the territory’s south, is burning over more than 18,500 hectares.

Residents in suburbs of Canberra have been urged to “remain alert” for potential evacuations.

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“The ACT is now facing the worst bushfire threat since the devastating fires of 2003,” Chief Minister Andrew Barr told reporters on Friday.

“There’s now no higher priority for the ACT government at this time than the bushfire threat.”

The small territory, located between Sydney and Melbourne, has about 400,000 residents.

In 2003, bushfires in the suburbs of Canberra killed four people, injured another 500 and destroyed or damaged 470 homes.

Similar weather conditions were being recorded on Friday, authorities said.

Three US firefighters died on the same day after their aircraft crashed over a fire zone near the city, in the Snowy Mountains region.

Earlier this week, photos of bushfires in the area turning skies red were shared widely on social media.

It prompted authorities to issue warnings against “disaster tourism”, following several reports of people driving near active fire zones to take pictures.

“I want to reinforce the message to disaster tourists they’re not welcome as this fire approaches,” Mr Barr said.

Since September, bushfires in Australia have killed at least 33 people and destroyed thousands of homes. More than 11 million hectares of land has been scorched.

Source: BBC News

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Miraculous escape as car crashes into house and catches fire

Three people have suffered serious injuries after the car they were travelling in crashed into a house and caught fire.

The incident on the Isle of Lewis happened on the A857, after the junction with the A858, known as Barvas Corner, at about 01:30.

Car crashed into house

Three men in the car, aged 22, 32 and 36, and a 61-year-old woman who was in the house were rescued by police.

A 32-year-old man was arrested in connection with road traffic offences. Sgt Donald Sinclair, of Police Scotland, said: “Our inquiries into the circumstances of the crash are ongoing and I am appealing for anyone who saw the crash or who saw a blue Vauxhall Zafira being driven on the A857 before 1.30am to come forward.

The car ended up standing upright on its bonnet, leaning against the house.

The driver and two passengers of the blue Vauxhall Zafira were taken to Western Isles Hospital for treatment to serious injuries.

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